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Miles Miller, Sturgill Simpson’s Longtime Drummer, Leaves the Kit for a Solo Career

On a recent drive from Cleveland, Ohio, back to his home in Austin, Texas, Miles Miller had ample time to reflect along the 1,400-mile route.

“I thought about how much I thought about these moments without knowing what they would look like,” Miller tells Rolling Stone. “Even when I was younger, I knew that these moments would happen — I just didn’t know how it would look or how it would feel.”

One of those moments Miller is talking about include hitting the stage last month as a solo artist to open for Tyler Childers on a four-date Midwestern run. Which is how he got to Cleveland. Standing behind the microphone, guitar in hand, the singer-songwriter belted out tunes from his just-released debut album, Solid Gold, during his 45-minute set for thousands each night.

Though most of the Childers faithful may have had no idea who Miller was or where he came from, the 30-year-old’s touch is all over the last decade of country and Americana music.

He’s the same Miles Miller who manned the drum kit on every Sturgill Simpson album going back to 2014’s essential Metamodern Sounds in Country Music and including A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, which won the Grammy for Best Country Album in 2017. Miller also toured behind Simpson from 2012 up until the mercurial singer pressed pause on music in 2021 to focus on acting. (Simpson appears in the latest season of The Righteous Gemstones and in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming Killers of the Flower Moon.)

Coincidentally, Miller also backed up Childers on the albums Purgatory and Country Squire, and briefly toured with Childers in 2018. And he’s also the same Miles Miller who held the anchor position onstage and in the studio with Americana/bluegrass sensation Town Mountain.

“It’s crazy to have done all that and, obviously, I would not be here without any of that,” Miller says. “It’s undoubtedly made me humbled and understanding of all the business [side of things]. But [with Solid Gold], I’m starting up from scratch, essentially.”

He does have an ace in the hole, however: Simpson came aboard to produce the LP, and the result is a free-flowing sonic river of contemporary Americana, Nashville indie-folk, and Texas honky-tonk — three realms in which Miller excels. There’s also guitar heroics from Laur Joamets, Miller’s former bandmate in Simpson’s group.

Miles Miller steps out from behind the drum kit to launch a solo career with his debut album ‘Solid Gold.’

Justin Cook*

The easygoing track “Don’t Give Away Love” shows off the best of that mix, with Miller singing an irresistible refrain (“No, no, no don’t give away love!” he yearns), while Joamets adds tasteful slide throughout.  

Miller, naturally, handles the drumming.

“As a drummer, I’ve got to be a chameleon musically — you learn to play everything to be able [to fit] the mold,” Miller says. “So, when it came time for me to sing and write, and you’re around all these incredible writers and singers, you think, ‘Well, it has to be this and that.’ But, in reality, it should never be ‘this and that’ — it has to just be you.”

In creation, method, and follow-through, Solid Gold is catchy and clever, with just the right amount of shoeshine to conjure the signature elements of Miller’s musical pedigree and continued journey. “All of my favorite artists write from a personal place. It comes from a place of their true life; some highs, some lows, and some real lows,” Miller says. Listen to “A Feeling Called Lonesome” for the LP’s gut-punch.

Miller was raised outside of Lexington, Kentucky, in the rural horse country landscape of Versailles, the same hometown as Simpson. Toying around with guitars and songwriting at an early age, Miller discovered a natural talent for percussion as a teenager, grabbing the sticks for his high-school marching, jazz, and symphonic bands.

“I was always the guy singing and playing guitar at parties,” Miller says. “Drums were just this thing that came supernaturally to me kind of at the beginning of high school.”

Following graduation, Miller attended Nashville’s Belmont University to major in commercial music. Studying under renowned drummer Zoro (Lenny Kravitz, Sean Lennon), Miller left Belmont after two semesters for Colorado to drum for the Creede Repertory Theatre, due in part to the encouragement of Zoro to audition for the position.

By 2012, Miller was in search of his next step when he received a phone call from A-list Nashville producer Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell). Cobb wanted to see if Miller was interested in a gig playing for a new artist Cobb was working with — Simpson.

Miller took the job and set out on a whirlwind few years of world tours, performances at award shows and on Saturday Night Live, and headlining arenas. He admits it could be nerve-wracking.

“I would have some anxieties playing drums,” Miller says.

But when the spotlight was solely on Miller as a singer or performer under his own name, he loosened up. “It just has felt so right to be so vulnerable,” he says. “This is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.”


So will he answer the call to drum again if Simpson asks? Miller says drumming will always be in the cards, but for now, it’s just him, a guitar, and his songs.

“I’m just kind of rolling with [it],” he says. “I’ve got all this stuff in my heart and my head, and I’m itching to get onstage — I’m prepared, I’m ready.”

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